It has several key attributes:
- Going outside without proper clothes is likely to kill you.
- Snow storms make visibility poor and can easily take out key infrastructure such as communications.
- Even if you do have proper clothes, there is little to go to since the place is far from much of anything.
- As a research station, you can find all sorts of specialized equipment around.
- As a place in a very cold climate, you can find even more specialized equipment around.
- As an inhospitable location, people don't go there because it's convenient, but because they have a purpose (or because they were forced to).
- The ice can hold all sorts of treasure and secrets hidden within it.
- Even if communications are working, calling for help might not do anything. By the time a rescue chopper arrives, everyone could already be dead.
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Anime & Manga
- In the Digimon Ghost Game episode "Icy Hell", the group visits an autonomous (meaning they're all alone) geothermal power plant managed by Teen Genius Kiyoshiro in the middle of winter which ends up being besieged by the Humongous Mecha Digimon Frozomon, leaving them Snowed-In as the temperature steadily drops.
- There's a Donald Duck comic (by William Van Horn, a Canadian writer) where Donald joins a shady company during a Heat Wave in Duckburg so he can get a job at an arctic mining station. Sure enough, it turns out that it's actually part of a smuggling operation that Donald has to dismantle.
- Whiteout follows U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko's investigation of a murder at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. A sequel, Whiteout: Melt, deals with the theft of hidden nuclear weapons from an ex-Soviet base.
- The 2003 Venom series kicks off with an evil clone of the Venom symbiote massacring and escaping from the Northern Canadian research station that was studying it. It makes its way to a nearby radar base, jumping from host to host as it looks for one that will last long enough to bring it to civilization.
Film — Animated
- Despicable Me 2 opens on one such station, which is then stolen by the Big Bad. Stolen as in the entire facility is lifted off the ground and hauled away.
Film — Live-Action
- A Cold Night's Death is set in an Arctic base, where altitude, temperature, and food deprivation experiments are being performed on chimpanzees for the U.S. Space Program. When the scientist's relief team shows up, they find the base in disarray and the scientist mysteriously dead, and soon begin succumbing to Polar Madness (or maybe something more sinister...).
- Ice Station Zebra centers on a lonely Arctic research station that happens to be the closest manned site to where a reconnaissance satellite fell to Earth. Both the Soviet Union and the United States desperately want that satellite, since it managed to photograph secret military sites worldwide before falling out of orbit. It comes down to a race between Soviet fighter jets versus an American nuclear submarine.
- Boa aka New Alcatraz is about an inescapable prison built in Antarctica to house the world's toughest criminals, but it also doubles as a research station. Pretty soon after the first batch of prisoners arrives, researchers Dug Too Deep and stumbled into a prehistoric Hollow Earth. Unfortunately for them, a giant boa immediately escapes and starts picking off the Dwindling Party.
- Star Trek (2009) has the Delta Vega station, manned only by Scotty (who's been Reassigned to Antarctica after using Admiral Archer's beagle as a transporter guinea pig) and Keenser.
- Tell Me How I Die is actually a slasher set in the mainland U.S., but at a remote drug testing facility somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, so close enough. It shares all the elements of everyone being there for a purpose, the hostile snowy weather preventing anyone from leaving, etc.
- The Thing from Another World is set at an Arctic scientific outpost, while the remake The Thing (1982) was set in Antarctica. There are two Antarctic research stations seen in the remake. One is the Norwegian post which discovered the alien spacecraft embedded in the ice crust. The other is the American post which adopts a sled dog that had been fleeing Norwegian commandos. The dog later turns out to be an evil, pleomorphic alien. While trying to learn more about their foe, the Americans visit the Norwegian post, which is found to be a thoroughly burnt and ravaged ruins.
- The slasher film South of Sanity is set in an Antarctic research base, the crew of which is being picked off one by one by someone wearing a CPR dummy's face as a mask.
- In Sometimes They Come Back... for More, an Antarctic base engaged in illegal mining activities unearths an immortal Satanist who begins killing and resurrecting everyone as zombies while he works to summon the Devil.
- Zygote is set 20 Minutes into the Future at a base that mines asteroids that have fallen onto the Arctic circle.
- In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the secret monster-monitoring organization Monarch maintain bases all over the world, mostly in places where kaiju are known to be in hibernation. The one that keeps them the most nervous is Outpost 32, in Antarctica, where an unidentified creature, dubbed "Monster Zero", is frozen in the ice — actually the film's Big Bad, King Ghidorah. As a fun bit of trivia, Outpost 32's designation is a Shout-Out to The Thing (1982)'s Outpost 31. By Godzilla vs. Kong (set five years later), the station has been repurposed to study the "Vile Vortex", an anomalous gravitational rift in the Earth's crust leading into the monster-filled Hollow World. The close proximity between Ghidorah and the vortex are speculated to be more than coincidental in the novelization.
- Ravenous (1999) is set in a Bleak Border Base in the Nevada Mountains sometime in the 1840s, when American westward expansion is just beginning — not a research station or at either pole, but its remote location and heavy snowfalls creates a very similar mood. The soldiers at Fort Spencer are, in a sense, at the edge of their world.
- The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms starts at such a location in the Canadian arctic, where the NATO powers are conducting nuclear tests with unpredictable results. Not long after the bomb is detonated, the outpost's radar starts to detect strange movements from something very big out in the icy wasteland. The first glimpse we get of the Beast is obscured by the Arctic snow.
- The Giant Claw follows transparently in its steps with an opening scene of radar bases up around the DEW Line, and a test pilot reporting an Unidentified Flying Object (the size of a battleship) that the radar didn't pick up. In this case, however, the threat isn't thawed out of the ice by nuclear testing but simply comes down from space.
- The Deadly Mantis also has a scene in a military outpost up around the DEW Line, which the eponymous Big Creepy Crawly attacks.
- In the Animorphs novel "The Extreme", the Animorphs have to destroy a Yeerk facility in the Arctic that is developing a means of turning any body of water into a Yeerk pool using satellite broadcasts. It turns out that the Arctic was chosen so that the Venber, a previously-extinct ice-based species that the Yeerks have resurrected and placed under their control, could be used there.
- The Matthew Reilly action/ espionage thriller Ice Station takes place in and around the Wilkes Station in Antarctica. In reality, Wilkes was a research station established in January of 1957 on Vincennes Bay, consisting of several squat, trailer-like structures set on solid ground. It was abandoned in 1969 when the structures had degraded to the point of becoming a fire hazard. But the Wilkes Station described in the book is a technically advanced (for the 1990s) structure several stories deep in the ice, built around a central open shaft allowing access to a large borehole leading to the water beneath - perfect for pitched gun battles on the balconies surrounding the shaft and desperate maneuvers to avoid the frigid waters and killer whales circling below. As described in the book:
"Austin was standing at the edge of the large, round pool that formed the base of the Wilkes Ice Station. Five stories deep, Wilkes was a remote coastal research station, a giant underground cylinder that had literally been carved into the ice shelf. A series of narrow catwalks and ladders hugged the circumference of the vertical cylinder, creating a wide circular shaft in the middle of the station. Doorways led off each of the catwalks — into the ice — creating the five different levels of the station. Like many others before them, the residents of Wilkes had long since discovered that the best way to endure the harsh polar weather was to live under it."
- In the novel Simon Black in the Antarctic — part of the Simon Black series by Ivan Southall — pilot Simon Black is sent to investigate when an Antarctic research drops out of contact with the outside world. When he arrives, he discovers the base had come under attack from a Lost Tribe of Neanderthals, and the radio had been destroyed in their first attack.
- James Rollin's novel Artic features the sinister Soviet base "Grendel", built over the nest of a species of carnivorous, orca-like amphibious predators who hibernate in the caverns but occasionally will wake up to feed and patrol their territory, as if the harsh climate and the freezing waters weren't enough. It turns out the monsters were the subject of American research on cryogenics, and the lower levels are filled with frozen guinea pigs.
- Night Without End by Alistair Maclean. An airplane crashes near a scientific outpost in Greenland. When the survivors are taken there, they clumsily knock over the radio to the fury of the scientists, because there's not enough food for them all and the nearest settlement is 300 kilometers away. Then they discover that the aircraft pilot was shot, raising the question of whether the radio being destroyed was an accident.
- In The Magicians, the Fourth Year at Brakebills sends the students to the school's southern campus in Antarctica; technically a school, it's also a magical laboratory and prison for the only staff member in residence, Professor Mayakovsky. A borderline-psychopathic Sadist Teacher, Mayakovksy amps up the creepiness by magically preventing the students from speaking and driving them almost to insanity through a Training from Hell conducted under isolation. For good measure, the Ultimate Final Exam of the year requires students to walk to the South Pole... naked.
- The trope gets Zig-Zagged in Early Riser — Talgarth and HiberTech's research facilities are located in the remotest reaches of Sector 12. But Sector 12 isn't in the Antarctic, or Siberia, or some far-off mountainous region... it's in Wales. The encroaching ice sheets from the north (thanks to the last ice age not having ended) result in regular blizzards and -40 degree temperatures that make the landscape little better than the arctic during the wintertime. The rail line that services the sector closes down in winter, so the only way in or out is a treacherous journey by Sno-Trac vehicle.
- Starsnatcher contains an example of this trope in its backstory. Before the story even starts, scientists went missing in Antarctica and no-one knows why. As it turns out, they got killed and/or turned into horrific monsters by a virus brought there by an alien spaceship. The sole survivor turned into the story's Big Bad.
- On The Big Bang Theory, the boys go to an arctic station between seasons to conduct experiments. Spending months alone with Insufferable Genius Sheldon was too much for them, so they had to resort to falsifying data to keep him happy.
- Doctor Who:
- The last story featuring the First Doctor, "The Tenth Planet", is set in a base in the middle of Antarctica that gets attacked by Cybermen. "Twice Upon a Time" also reveals that the First Doctor encountered a future self there before his upcoming regeneration.
- "The Ice Warriors" uses this trope, but technically isn't at one of the poles (it's during an ice age instead).
- The first two episodes of "The Seeds of Doom" are set in an Antarctic research station, where one of the research team has been taken over by an alien plant creature, and have very strong overtones of The Thing (1982).
- "Last Christmas" is set at an Arctic research base where the workers, as well as the Doctor and Clara, are attacked by dream crabs. It later turned out to be a dream caused by the crabs, based on movies that used this trope like The Thing (1982).
- The Head. The relief team of an Antarctic research station arrive to discover most of the winter-over crew have murdered each other. The rest of the mini-series is about discovering why.
- Helix: The first season is entirely set inside a massive Arctic research station where a viral outbreak at the base requires intervention from CDC officials. However, even they are unable to deal with the situation when the virus starts transforming people into ravenous Technically Living Zombies. The whole thing is slowly revealed to be part of a conspiracy by a secret society of immortals to develop a plague to wipe out humanity.
- House: Played with in the episode "Frozen", where the A-plot is centered on a female scientist (Mira Sorvino) stationed at a small research outpost in Antarctica suffering from a mystery illness serious enough to make her cough up blood. Because of the impracticality of sending a medical team over, Dr. House and his staff communicate with and diagnose her from the safety of their offices in New Jersey through a satellite feed. House even manages to get into a near-affair with her despite being separated from each other by thousands of miles.
- The Relic Hunter episode "Under the Ice" had Sydney and Nigel being called to a research facility in the Arctic Circle to inspect and then relocate the unearthed mummy of an Anasazi Native. When they get to the base, they and their two companions, Knowles and Simpson, find the place completely trashed, with the heat off, six of the eight employees dead, and one of them half-dead, with it being gradually revealed that the missing eighth staff member discovered a hibernating Hate Plague in the mummy, which he infected all of his co-workers with to see if the disease would be viable as a WMD.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: In the episode "Regeneration", a team of scientists at an Arctic research station in the middle 22nd century comes across Borg drones preserved in the ice from Time Travel events that took place in Star Trek: First Contact. After investigating and recovering the bodies, the drones infiltrate the Enterprise and manage to relay a message to the rest of the Collective before they're stopped.
- Supergirl (2015): The Thorul Arctic Research Station in season 2 is the current base of National City climate change scientist Rudy Jones, and the episode in which he becomes monster Parasite opens as a deliberate homage to The Thing (1982) — they discover a still warm wolf body from thousands of years ago in the ice, with the cold and remote conditions being the perfect survival spot for a prehistoric parasite.
- The X-Files episode "Ice" is set inside an Arctic research station where the scientists have discovered a supposedly alien life form capable of parasitizing human hosts and driving them into murderous rage against one another.
- The Terror's first season is set on a pair of steamships — the H.M.S. Terror and the H.M.S. Erebus — exploring the Arctic, on a partly scientific expedition. They quickly become stationary when they get frozen in the ice.
- The Twilight Zone (2002) episode "Cold Fusion" is set in a secluded research facility in Nome, Alaska. The facility's staff is supposed to be working on a clean energy project called Gemini, but when the protagonist, Paul Thorson, arrives at the base, he finds it in disarray and largely abandoned outside of four crazy people named Chandler, Gordon, Morgan, and Skyles. It turns out that Paul is actually the head of the facility and the creator of Gemini. His fear over Gemini being weaponized caused him to go insane and murder all of his staff, who he then replaced with hallucinations in the form of the aforementioned Chandler, Gordon, Morgan, and Skyles. In the end, Paul "kills" all four of his delusions before being Driven to Suicide.
- One of the "default" playsets for Fiasco is "The Ice", set in the (fictional) McMurdo research station in Antarctica. There is no predefined plot, but as the game's title suggests things there are expected to go badly and fast.
- The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31: a tabletop adaptation of the film (cover pictured above).
- Alpha Polaris takes place in a remote Arctic research outpost, and after the team uncovers an ancient worship site in which ritual cannibalism may have occurred, resulting in a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane series of events involving escalating terror, madness, and the evil spirit of the Wendigo.
- Among Us has the Polus map, a research station set on an icy planet. Curiously there is a lava lake too. And there is at least one monster masquerading as one of the crewmates.
- Antarctica 88 has Antarctica 1, which the Player Character's father Vladimir Efimov was doing research at before everything went silent.
- In Black Snow, your player character John Matsuda is an IT specialist being chugged out to the Amaluuk Research Station in Greenland with several other "IT specialists" to investigate why the station's gone dark a week ago. What's supposed to be a routine service leaves all of your coworkers separated, dead, or worse, and, as nightfall and below-zero temperatures take over the station, leaves you to find out what's happened.
- Delta Force 2's "Operation Common Resolve" campaign begins with a hostage situation gone south at an Anarctic facility where a terrorist group steals several scientists and a viral sample.
- Base 75 from Frostbite: Deadly Climate, which appears to be deserted of any/all personal outside of the player... and whatever it is that's stalking the player.
- Noveria from Mass Effect is an ice-covered planet where corporations are free to conduct research that would be controversial or even illegal on the Citadel space. In the first game, your pursuit of Matriarch Benezia leads to Peak 15, a lab on this planet where scientists were trying to resurrect supposedly extinct creatures but lost contact with the outside world due to said creatures breaking out of control.
- Downplayed in the survival game Near Death, in which an Antarctic pilot makes an emergency landing near a remote research station, only to discover it was abandoned and decommissioned months ago. The game has no supernatural threats, but the abandoned outpost is still quite creepy, and without power, light, or heat the danger of quick death from the cold is an omnipresent threat.
- Ecopoint Antarctica from Overwatch was set up to study climatic anomalies in the region. Its staff put themselves into cryostasis after nearly running out of supplies during a severe storm; Mei was the only survivor.
- The Thing (2002) continues from the first film after a rescue team is sent to investigate the remains of Outpost 31, then later runs into even more aliens at different research outposts and covert military bases across the continent.
- In the third level of Strider 2, Strider Hiryu explores a hidden research station in Antarctica. Aside from soldiers, it contains a cyborg mammoth as its guardian, anti-gravity sections, lab scientists that turn into beasts, and the boss, a giant squid-like monster that's presumably part of the research project.
- In the Subnautica expansion Below Zero, an abandoned arctic research station serves as one of the early areas you need to explore.
- The Turing Test is set on the Jovian moon Europa, a ball of ice in the void of space so cold and remote that it makes Antarctica look positively tropical. You spend most of your time investigating the eerily empty subterranean research station there, trying to find out where its crew went after contact was lost.
- The third episode of Stories Untold takes place in an isolated weather station in Greenland. The tension ratchets up as you begin to lose contact with the rest of the world and finally with other nearby stations.
- The setting of the first arc of Fate/Grand Order. The exact location is only made entirely clear to the protagonist after they've been living there for a year or so, because they were brought there unaware of where they were even going. The snowy setting gets a bit of focus, especially in the anime adaptations. And it's at least conceptually plenty spooky, considering the fact most of your fellow living human inhabitants die in the prologue. And then the apocalypse happens and instead of the constant snowstorms that usually envelop the base, it's now surrounded by nothing by pitch black sky with a red skyline that is the rest of the Earth incinerated by the Big Bad. Spooky! Surprisingly, it gets a lot more cheerful when a bunch of dead people move in. But the vibes, and especially the mysterious nature of everything that happened before the protagonist arrived, are a little spooky. It becomes a lot nicer in atmosphere when the protagonists save the world and get to enjoy a nice sunny day with clear blue skies. Then it goes right back to being spooky when it's invaded a year later by an army of magic Russian Secret Police and their leader from an Alternate Timeline who slaughter almost everyone there and encase the entire place under tons of ice.
- The Resident Evil series has the utterly massive Antarctic Transport Terminal featured in Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Ironically, of all their known installations, the least amount of research is done in the most isolated of them all — while it has some laboratories it's mostly used as a transport hub for their illicit shipments and thus features a massive warehouse, helicopter landing pad, an airstrip, and vehicle yards, albeit most of it is either buried by the weather or derelict as there's been an outbreak of the virus by the time you get there.
- Unfortunate Spacemen has the Outpost 13 map at a research base in the middle of an expanse of snow as a homage to The Thing (1982), in a game where one of the players is a shape-shifting monster trying to murder all the others before they can escape.
- In the second season of Exo Squad, the title squad accidentally discovers a Neosapien research facility hidden in the Antarctic, which turns out to be researching and producing the first batch of Neo Lords.
- The James Bond Jr. episode "The Thing in the Ice" had a malfunctioning mining robot drive everyone out of an Antarctic research base, which is later explored by James.
- The Martin Mystery episode "The Body-Swapper" was a Whole-Plot Reference to The Thing. An ancient, shape-shifting organism unearthed in the Canadian tundra begins terrorizing a Center base located there.